Sample from The Starseeker Gambit...
Commander James crossed the bridge to where the sensor operator sat. "What've you got?"
"Sir, I've detected what appears to be another ship holding position just outside the nebula's electrical boundary."
James’ eyebrows rose. "A ship? Out here? Can you identify it yet?" he asked, scanning the information displayed on the screen.
The operator turned and keyed in several commands. "I've already determined by the power output that it’s an Earth origin ship."
James's look of concentration eased a bit as he inwardly smiled at the sensor operator's choice of wording. An ‘Earth origin ship’ meant that it wasn't an extraterrestrial, something that space crews knew they might encounter someday but didn't spend too much time thinking about. To date the Earth's Expeditionary ships had traveled millions of parsecs of space and hadn't yet seen any hint of alien beings. Of course space was a very, very vast place James reminded himself as he turned his attention back to the sensor operator.
"I'll need to severely boost the power on two emitters to get a precise reading at this range,” the operator cautioned. “It might damage them."
"You have my approval,” James replied. “We need to know who it is.”
The sensor operator began entering the proper commands when the on-duty communication’s officer excitedly called for James's attention.
"Commander, Lieutenant Anderson is calling from Deck Five! He says that he and Ensign Flagerty are currently in pursuit of the saboteur! He asks that we set up personnel to intercept them in the engineering section immediately."
The announcement took James completely by surprise, as it obviously had the rest of the bridge crew. Everyone had stopped what they were doing and were staring at him intently. He knew what they were thinking. The saboteur. They'd almost died twice over because of this person, and now they had a chance.
"Get me a conference line with Anderson and Chief Noya immediately," James ordered quickly, "then contact all engineering decks and inform them of the pursuit."
The comm officer quickly replied and seconds later Noya answered from the main drive control room.
"Chief, the saboteur has been found and is being chased aft on Deck Five towards you," James informed him without preamble. "Can you get some people in place to stop him?"
"It's a woman Commander," the still winded Anderson said over the open line. "Ensign Collins, a blonde woman wearing a cargo crew uniform."
"Got it," Noya said, understanding the situation immediately. "I'll get some people in place," he said hurriedly. A few seconds later a muted whooping sound came from the open comm line with engineering. "I've closed the emergency decompression doors between engineering and the rest of the sections aft," the chief explained. "She can't get past us. We'll catch her Commander."
"Keep me informed," James said then closed the comm line. He moved towards his command chair. "Somebody wake the captain," he ordered.
The sensor operator turned from his station and looked directly at the first officer. "Sir, the scan is complete. I've identified the ship." The tone of his voice betrayed the fact that he couldn't yet believe the scan's results.
"And?" James prompted.
"The computer has matched the ship's power emissions with those on record for the United Earth Ticonderoga, a military ship sir."
As if things weren't bad enough already! James thought, frowning.
"Commander, why would a military ship be this far out into unexplored space?" the sensor operator asked, looking utterly confused. James noted that his expression was shared by most of the bridge crew.
"I don't know" James lied. He strode to the front of the bridge and stared intently out the large viewport towards the brightly glowing nebula ahead of them. He couldn't see the military ship lurking out there, hadn't expected to be able to. But now that he knew it was there the beauty of the nebula was marred by the knowledge.
He turned back to face the bridge crew. "Discontinue all scans of the nebula region until further notice," he ordered. "Close all viewport shields. Cut power to minimum levels on all nonessential systems. Somebody get me an update on the pursuit. And has the captain been alerted yet?"
The drive officer answered. "I woke him up sir, he should be here shortly."
James could tell that his orders didn't make sense to the crew facing him. But they were carried out regardless. It was more than just his being their first officer. In the short time he'd been aboard he had earned their respect and trust. The Eagle’s mission had been anything but normal, and the crew knew they only had each other to count on this far from home.
James turned back to face the nebula but could only see it for a moment before the viewport's large, reinforced, anti-meteor shield rose into place. His gut tightened as he thought about the threat this new development posed to the success of their mission. Admiral Gossit had apparently raised the stakes of the game.
After decades of worldwide prosperity and growth, the Earth passes the brink of overpopulation. Its air fouled with the pollution of decades of unchecked industrialization, its global resources stretched to the limit, nature’s delicate balance is tipping toward a dark future. Drastic changes must be made.
Chartered by Earth's government, a small fleet of interstellar exploration ships is tasked with searching nearby star systems. Their goal: find a suitable life-supporting planet for a burgeoning humanity to colonize, reducing Earth’s burden before the damage is irreversible. Crewed by civilian explorers and planetary scientists, the Eagle is part of this expeditionary fleet. Yet despite hundreds of light years of travel, the ship and its crew have not discovered the hoped for planet. Branded by similar failed missions for the past decade, the entire fleet is under increasing political pressure to fulfill their charter.
During this turmoil, a more immediate threat develops in the form of a zealous military leader vying for control of all Earth’s space assets. The resultant enmity between civilian and military space fleets erupts into open confrontation in deep space. Light years from home, unarmed and alone, the Eagle and its crew uncover a secret plot that could destroy the civilian space organization entirely. Unless they can bring proof back to Earth, lives will be lost, the fleet destroyed, and a malicious leader unjustly granted the power he seeks.
from author Robert E. Birnschein
If you're looking for a star-spanning epic journey with action that keeps you on your toes, than join Captain Jonas Hanson and the crew of the Expeditionary Starship Eagle as they embark on a perilous journey to the far distant Arcturus system.
"Science fiction adventures for earthbound readers."
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"Greatest space exploration novel of the century."
- Mike in Metairie (Amazon)
"...Written very well, is very interesting, including the plot, development of characters, etc. I really enjoyed reading it..."
- ScubaDave (Amazon)
"Engaging story line with well developed characters and believable situations...I really enjoyed it."
Available in paperback & for Kindle
Category: Science Fiction, ages 12 & up
355 Pages, 41 Chapters
For educators: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level = 7.8
Copyright Robert E. Birnschein. All rights reserved.